I have read Walter Mosley before, but only knew him as the author of the Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill mystery series. I had no idea he also wrote sp...moreI have read Walter Mosley before, but only knew him as the author of the Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill mystery series. I had no idea he also wrote speculative fiction. My ignorance was an oversight.
This short story features Mosley's strong voice and excellent writing, and adds an imaginative story about a patchwork man with the memories, abilities and seemingly, souls, of many others inside of him. This plot device is similar to Brandon Sanderson'sLegion and the Cowboy Ninja Viking graphic novel, but the style is all its own.
This story seems to be the prelude of a larger narrative, which I can only hope is the case, as my appetite has been whet for more Jack Strong adventures, and more answers to Strong's mysterious past.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.(less)
Alright, let me preface this review by stating upfront that I have tried to read two of Mieville's novels -- Kraken and Railsea -- and wasn't able to...moreAlright, let me preface this review by stating upfront that I have tried to read two of Mieville's novels -- Kraken and Railsea -- and wasn't able to finish either. I had pretty much given up on him when I came upon this free short story available on Tor's website. I figured at that price, and with such a short time commitment required, I may as well give him a third chance. And you know what? I kind of dug this story.
It has a good central idea -- natural resources that humankind is destroying, such as icebergs and coral reefs, find extraordinary ways to reform. And it is also a personal story of a boy growing up among this phenomena and how it affects his childhood friendships. However, it was light on rising action and felt rather hollow and unfinished at the end. It did accomplish something nothing of Mieville's ever has for me before though -- it made me want to read more of it. So now I am wondering if Tor has released this ahead of a potential full length book in this world? If that is the case, this story definitely has my interest peaked, and I would definitely give it a shot.(less)
This novel was broken into three sections -- 1. World Without End, 2. The Year 22, and 3. The Last American -- that were interspersed with two "Quick...moreThis novel was broken into three sections -- 1. World Without End, 2. The Year 22, and 3. The Last American -- that were interspersed with two "Quick Years" segments that pushed the story forward decades at a time. The first section, where protagonist Isherwood Williams survived a plague, was an extremely strong opening, and felt timeless -- right up until about the time Ish started interacting with other people. The more Ish interacted with others, the more cracks started to form in the narrative.
It really started breaking down after the first section, where uneven pacing and didactic storytelling started creeping into the story. There was lots of telling -- all the quick years segments, the kids' journey, the death of Charlie, the typhoid epidemic -- and no showing. Opportunities for tension or conflict were glossed over or skipped outright in favor of recapping them in retrospect.
Ish was kind of a dick. He was easy to anger, and had a very high opinion of himself and an even lower opinion of other, except his "chosen" son Joey. Then there was Ish's hammer. It is fitting that it was a hammer, as it was used to bludgeon the reader with its metaphorical value as the superstition/taboo/religion/symbol of the Tribe's little society. There was no subtlety to how these allusions were made whatsoever.
This book was, I'm sure, in some ways progressive for its time, as Ish married a woman that is at least partly black -- there are subtle allusions to her dark features and "half moon eyes" and she later mentions the treatment of her people by society before the change -- and there was also a polygamous family in the Tribe. However, it was also racist -- early on, Ish considered staying with "negro" folk and being their king, as they were used to serving the white man -- and also incredibly sexist -- the female characters range from stupid, to ignorant, to half-witted, and absolutely no chance to disparage them was missed.
The rising action of the second section, The Year 22, where Charlie returns with the boys from their journey and the resulting consequences, was a clinic in bad writing:
For starters, the foreshadowing for Charlie being evil was anything but subtle -- he was repeatedly mentioned to be dirty, sweaty, fat, pig-eyed, boar-eyed, etc. -- before he had done anything untoward. And Ish's instant dislike and slander was not solely because Charlie was an outsider, as it was mentioned earlier that the Tribe interacted with others occasionally.
When it was made clear that Charlie would try to bed Evie, a beautiful, vacant-eyed blonde that had absolutely no function in the story until that point, and was clearly written solely to be the impetus for this conflict, the reader is supposed to be against their coupling because Ish was, but Ish's reasoning is flimsy at best, and more likely just self-serving, as Ish feels threatened as the alpha male of the community. Why not just let Evie be with Charlie? Why deny her? She was so excited by the prospect they were literally considering imprisoning her to keep her away from him.
The climactic resolution was entirely skipped over. How exactly did the community separate Charlie from his derringer and kill him without him fighting back? How is it that Em got to vote about the handling of the situation, but not Ezra or George's wives? How did Ish change the minds of the younger kids so quickly that there was no resentment to him murdering their new friend for an act he hadn't yet committed? This second segment of the book raised many more questions than it gave answers, and few of these points were addressed afterward.
But enough about the second section. The segment that followed was another quick years segment, that while it read a bit like an almanac, was brief enough not to cause offense or too much boredom.
The third and final section, The Last American, was a strong, if imperfect ending. I liked Ish's contemplation about the state of the world and his ancestors, who now care for him and even revere him, up to a point. The bit about the bows and arrows was a nice touch, as was the destruction of Ish's childhood home and the conclusion on the bridge regarding the inheritance of the hammer.
While I had a long list of complaints about this book, in the end I am definitely glad to have read it, even if I wasn't loving the process of reading it. So it goes for most classics. It is also a good exercise to revisit the roots of an interesting genre. Stephen King acknowledged this book as an influence in The Stand, so any fan of that book, as I am, will certainly see the value of reading this, if for no other reason than to see how that was built on the foundation this laid.(less)
For as much as I love John Scalzi, The Old Man's War universe, and The Human Division, I didn't care much for this short story. There just wasn't enou...moreFor as much as I love John Scalzi, The Old Man's War universe, and The Human Division, I didn't care much for this short story. There just wasn't enough here, and what was here read like a PSA for human-alien relations. It isn't bad by any means, but definitely skippable.(less)
This discourse on dystopias won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and National Book awards, and almost every single one of my Goodreads friends that...moreThis discourse on dystopias won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and National Book awards, and almost every single one of my Goodreads friends that has read it has it tagged with a 4 or 5 star rating. So clearly, the problem here is with me, because I really hated this book -- and it isn't because this book is dated or aged poorly, because the Cold War era slant of this book plays perfectly to a modern audience considering the current state of Russian-U.S. relations.
I'm giving it two stars because I do appreciate the big ideas Le Guin brings up. The vision behind the "profiteering" cultures of Urras -- with subdivisions for the capitalists of A-Io (U.S.) and the authoritarian state of the Thu (Russia) -- and the anarchist outcast settlement of Anarres was a solid and interesting foundation for the book. But the weak characterizations, uninspiring writing, unnecessarily non-linear storytelling, lack of action, and disappointing ending all added up to a very difficult and unrewarding reading experience for me. To address those points specifically (mild spoilers may follow):
- There is only one character, Shevek, who is more than one-dimensional. The rest fill out the story as needed -- corrupt bureaucrat, radical friend, loving partner, etc. As for Shevek, for as brilliant as he is, he is naive to the point of incredulity. And I don't mean just after he leaves Anarres for A-Io. It takes him decades longer than his friends to see the corruption in his own anarchist world. He is willfully ignorant of what is going on around him for someone involved in something as deep as theoretical physics.
- The writing was clunky throughout the entire novel, and had no rhythm. There were tedious lists, long sections of discourse about the various imperfections in the various imperfect societies, and unnecessary word invention -- although I will grant calling the toilet a shittery is funny, if nothing else.
- Another aspect of the storytelling that did not agree with me was the alternating chapters, where one chapter would be a flashback to Anarres, and the next a current day chapter on Urras. I would have minded this less if anything interesting or noteworthy happened on Anarres -- what little did happen could have easily been worked into flashbacks in the current day chapters, which could have greatly shortened the novel, and likely, my enjoyment of it.
- There was one action scene in entire novel, and, if you include the aftermath, maybe ten pages are spent on it in total. There were also two other scenes that contained somewhat tense conflict. I don't need every book I read to be paced like The Hunger Games, but I need more of an action-driven plot than this, especially if you expect me to sit through endless info dumps on your imaginary dystopias.
- The book ends right before another action scene -- or at least a scene with great potential for conflict -- that Le Guin either didn't know how to write her way out of, or didn't want to go out on a limb and make a stand for, which I see as a cop-out either way.
- The overall feeling I was left with after reading this book was that capitalism sucks, anarchism sucks in different ways, and the only hope forward lies in benevolent aliens. This could have been improved if the ending to the novel went one chapter further, however it turned out.
I could go on, but I believe my opinion is already more than clear. I will leave you with a quote from this book that sums up how I felt about reading it:
He tried to read an elementary economics text; it bored him past endurance, it was like listening to somebody interminably recounting a long and stupid dream.
Goodreads friends, in all seriousness, tell me what I am missing that led you to rate this so highly. I feel like I am the only one seeing the Emperor's bare ass here.(less)
First off, while the table of contents lists about fifty entries, about half of them are only one-to-two page illustrations that don't actually tell a...moreFirst off, while the table of contents lists about fifty entries, about half of them are only one-to-two page illustrations that don't actually tell a story. For example, this -- albeit very cool -- image of the Headless Horseman: That gripe aside, the half of the entries that were of proper story length size were a very mixed bag.
The collection started out very strong, with One Thousand and One Nights; or, 1001, an excellent update on the myth with the Arabian mythos mixed with the modern newspaper publishing world. My other personal favorites included the very next story, John Henry, which had a certain I Am Legend vibe to it; The Tortoise and the Hare; or, The Tea Garden Soapbox Grand Prix, which was an exciting blend of Mario Kart and Speed Racer; and The Shepherd and the Weaver Girl, a beautifully animated Chinese tale that is reminiscent of Bridge of Birds (as they are both based on the same myth).
There were some other stories that stood out in different ways, such as The Last Leaf, which takes place on a space station; Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a touching, if saccharine story of a nanobot pet; The Five Chinese Brothers, which while I enjoyed, was not nearly as good as the myth on which it is based; and Hansel and Gretel, or, Bombus and Vespula, which had a delightful twist that I won't spoil here.
Other stories totally missed the mark, such as the incomprehensible Kid Yimage and the Really Big Hole; The Boy Who Cried Wolf; or, The Venusian Sheperd Boy Who Cried Space Wolf, which didn't seem to add anything in being updated; Alice in Wonderland; or, A.L.I.C.E., which was both incomprehensible and didn't add any new wrinkles to the original; and Humpty Dumpty, which was just rather disturbing.
In some cases I know I enjoyed the stories more because I knew how they were manipulating the source material, but in some others where I was not familar the original story, I still enjoyed the updated take. In others, either the art, the story (or lack thereof), or both ruined the fractured fairy tale whether or not I was familiar with the original.(less)
First of all, I should state that I really liked the concept of a zombie glimpsing the memories of their victim while eating their brain. Admittedly,...moreFirst of all, I should state that I really liked the concept of a zombie glimpsing the memories of their victim while eating their brain. Admittedly, I have not read near enough zombie fiction to know whether this addition to zombie canon was made by Marion or existed beforehand, but either way, it made a lot of sense. That said, I did not like any other aspect of this book.
For starters, the main linchpin of the story is that R takes Julie home to his zombie nest after her scrounging mission is interrupted by R's pack of zombies. While his infatuation with her is easily explained by him eating her boyfriend's brain, the near instant connection she forms with him is well beyond my suspension of disbelief. The nearest thing I could see it being is Stockholm syndrome, but even that sick bond takes a longer time to form.
Also, I don't know if you caught the previous mention of the main characters' names, but they are R and Julie, because :: bangs head against wall :: this is a modern day zombie retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Then there is R, the zombie protagonist, who is also the story's narrator. Naturally, Marion couldn't feasibly have R narrate in grunts and groans, but his decision to have a zombie -- one that cannot remember his life before death, is incapable of reading, and struggles to grunt anything longer than two syllables -- narrate so eloquently, and to delve into such deep philosophical waters, was again beyond my suspension of disbelief.
One final frustration was the "zombies" themselves. They have a zombie church, where R is married to another zombie, and is given zombie children to care for, who he takes to zombie school. I am not saying this is reaching the levels of sparkling vampires that play baseball... wait, no, that is exactly what I am saying. These are not zombies, they are shark jumping, fridge nuking, sparkling vampire zombies, and they make no sense.
Note, despite the fact that I could not finish this, I am giving it a second star for the creativity of the idea behind the story, despite how little I liked the execution of that idea.(less)
Like Michael Crichton, the author he is compared to on the cover, Daniel Suarez has his sights on the forefront of society and technology. He takes cu...moreLike Michael Crichton, the author he is compared to on the cover, Daniel Suarez has his sights on the forefront of society and technology. He takes cutting edge ideas and wonders "what if?", "how exactly?", and "then what would happen?", and writes down the fictionalized results. Suarez isn't trying to be "literary," he is writing thought experiments on current hot-button issues. In his previous book, Kill Decision, it was about drones, in this one, it's anti-gravity -- among other technology the black ops Bureau of Technology Control hides away, such as fusion.
The writing in this book could best be described as workmanlike. It is sparse on description and to the point, which I enjoy, with the minor exception of some techno-babble, mostly in two specific scenes -- the gravity mirror exposition in the first chapter and the scene where Jon learns how to use the gravity mirror boots later in the book.
The characterization is a bit of a shortcoming, especially with protagonist Jon Grady, who showed little signs of personal development considering what he experienced, and antagonist Hedrick, who made the villainy of Avatar's Colonel Quaritch look subtle by comparison. However, perhaps oddly, some of the supporting characters, specifically Alexa, Cotton and the A.I. Varuna, had more depth and nuance. But Suarez is at his best when technology is in the forefront -- such as a chilling torture scene where Grady is being interrogated by an A.I., which thankfully did not linger overlong otherwise this book may have had to been labelled as a Horror.
One nagging question I had reading this is why weren't the two splinter-BTC groups more in focus at any point? That plot-line seemed very underdeveloped, and I wonder if it was left open for a potential sequel.
All in all, this is a great approach to near-future sci-fi -- and without any aliens or spaceships -- and it makes for an impressive techno-thriller, even when things start to spin further and further beyond the realm of plausibility as the book draws to its climax.(less)
This quick read -- which I am marking as sci-fi, even thought it could just as easily be considered fantasy -- shows that its author, John Scalzi, has...moreThis quick read -- which I am marking as sci-fi, even thought it could just as easily be considered fantasy -- shows that its author, John Scalzi, has a lot more range than his typical novels about spaceships and aliens. While this short story, like those novels, also falls under the mantle of speculative fiction, as there is literally a Muse of Fire in it guiding the protagonist, it's an interesting change of pace, proving Scalzi's talents as varied as they are deep.
(Sorry for not saying more about the story itself, but there isn't much to say with a story this short that wouldn't spoil it, other than to say you should read it for yourself.)(less)
I saw the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie as a teenager and was turned off by its campiness, and so -- despite my love of comics -- never bothere...moreI saw the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie as a teenager and was turned off by its campiness, and so -- despite my love of comics -- never bothered looking into the comic character it was based on. I didn't have very high hopes for the rebooted Karl Urban Dredd movie from last year, but heard positive things from enough people that I gave it a chance. Seeing it totally changed my mind and made me a believer in Dredd -- it was a post-apocolyptic, science fiction, Orwellian version of The Raid, and it kicked all sorts of ass.
The reason my above digression is relevant to this is simple -- this graphic novel is cut 100% from the same cloth as the latter movie, and kicked just as much ass. It definitely has me looking forward to reading more of this series. It also functions as an excellent entry point to the character, as it's a story of Dredd's first year as a Judge -- although, to gripe, he doesn't act, nor is he drawn, particularly young.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.(less)
This book is a lot of things -- an amalgam of various dystopian ideas, an stream-of-consciousness inspection of the butterfly effect, an analysis on t...moreThis book is a lot of things -- an amalgam of various dystopian ideas, an stream-of-consciousness inspection of the butterfly effect, an analysis on the effects of power on the human psyche, a foray into the multiverse strangely reminiscent of Inception, a love story, an ode to George Orwell (the main character is named George Orr in homage to the author) -- but one thing it isn't is boring.
I have to point that out specifically because I did not want to read this, and if it weren't for my book club, I wouldn't have. This is the blurb from the book:
George Orr is a man who discovers he has the peculiar ability to dream things into being -- for better or for worse. In desperation, he consults a psychotherapist who promises to help him -- but who, it soon becomes clear, has his own plans for George and his dreams.
Nothing about that hooked me at all. I was worried the entire book would be filled with unintelligibly meaningful dream sequences reminiscent of Dali paintings, and I can't stand dream sequences (although I didn't mind them at all in the above-mentioned Inception, go figure). And reading the first paragraph, below, didn't help:
Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moondriven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.
But I am thrilled to report that the book's opening is also its last into the ethereal world of dreamscapes. The rest of the book is tightly concerned with the consequences of Orr's imaginings, not the acts themselves.
I can't say much more without spoiling some aspects of the plot, such as (view spoiler)[the aliens George dreams up are among my all-time favorite aliens in speculative literature (hide spoiler)], but I feel compelled to add that this story, despite being written in 1971, was very progressive in terms of race, gender and sexuality, and did not feel terribly dated. Michael Chabon's quote from the cover echoes that in a more personal way:
When I read The Lathe of Heaven as a young man, my mind was boggled. When I read it, more than 25 years later, it breaks my heart. Only a great work of literature can bridge — so thrillingly — that impossible span.
What we have here is a time capsule from 1961, when Harrison, the author of Make Room! Make Room!, wrote a pulpy sci-fi adventure as an homage to prot...moreWhat we have here is a time capsule from 1961, when Harrison, the author of Make Room! Make Room!, wrote a pulpy sci-fi adventure as an homage to prototypical science fiction adventures of an even earlier era.
While this didn't age as well as one would hope, and may get knocked down by fans of more contemporary science fiction on that account, I enjoy occasionally looking back in time and reading influential genre works, as they give a glimpse into how the genre was built and evolved into what it now is. This work is a particularly good example, as I am not sure sci-fi gets Han Solo without first having Slippery Jim diGriz, a.k.a. the Stainless Steel Rat.
And Jim is the kind of brash, rapscallion anti-hero with a heart of gold that sci-fi is littered with. And we love him for it.
One early plot development that did not sit so well with me, however, was how easily Jim was turned by the Special Corps. On his first job for them, for example, he is given a luxury spacecraft that he uses to catch another criminal, and at no point does he consider stealing it himself and disregarding the mission.
Also of note was that while at first, the treatment of females in this novel left a bit to be desired, that gets turned upside down when the mastermind antagonist turns out to be a femme fatale that is so manipulative, she ensnares Jim, a master con artist in his own right, with little effort.(less)
This is the free short story prequel to the upcoming The Darwin Elevator, which I was excited to read because of this quote I'd read about it:
...moreThis is the free short story prequel to the upcoming The Darwin Elevator, which I was excited to read because of this quote I'd read about it:
Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.
Sci-fi that is reminiscent of Firefly and Scalzi? Yes, please.
So then I start reading this prequel story -- which is available free on Tor.com -- and was dismayed to see that this was a zombie story, a genre which I am not really a fan of -- World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War being the only exception I can think of at all.
This could have made my decision to skip the upcoming novel easy, except that this story was so engaging and well written, I found myself liking it despite the tired zombies-overrun-humanity premise.(less)
This is Scalzi's first novel, which he was unable to sell and instead self-published online. It is actually still available for free here, with an int...moreThis is Scalzi's first novel, which he was unable to sell and instead self-published online. It is actually still available for free here, with an introduction detailing his process writing it, where he writes:
I offer it freely to give new readers a sample of my writing (perchance to tempt them to pick up one of the other books), and to say "thanks" to those who picked up another of my books and were curious enough about the author to find their way here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and have enjoyed all the writing since.
The book follows the life of Hollywood agent Tom Stein and his motley assortment of clients while answering the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe (spoiler alert: we're not). While a bit raw, his talent is nevertheless on full display.
It can be easily seen how he would grow into the author that would write Old Man's War, The Android's Dream, and Redshirts -- all of which maintain his trademark humor and banter, while treating their subject matter more seriously than that tone suggests possible.
While the middle of this book dragged slightly because of some clunky expository dialogue, the imagination behind the story and the humor in its telling more than make up for those small blemishes.
Also, I should note that I did not read the online version I linked to above, I listened to Wil Wheaton's narration of the audiobook. Wheaton did a phenomenal job with said narration -- he is especially good at bringing Scalzi's material to life.(less)
I got this book as part of the latest Humble Bundle, and since I like the author, I thought I would give it a read.
Now, when I say I like the author,...moreI got this book as part of the latest Humble Bundle, and since I like the author, I thought I would give it a read.
Now, when I say I like the author, I don't mean from his child star years. I didn't watch Star Trek as a kid (I was all about Star Wars), and I'm pretty sure I've never seen Stand By Me, although I could have seen it when I was too young for it to have made an impression. I mean to say I like him as an "Internet Power" (as Patrick Rothfuss labeled him), and also as a writer, a book narrator, and the host of Tabletop. So while I was aware that Wheaton once played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I didn't come into this book with a preconceived "I hate Wesley Crusher!" mentality that I now understand lives in the dark recesses of Star Trek fandom.
The pressure of having played Wesley Crusher is a near-constant theme throughout the book. At points, it became a bit repetitive on that point, but, overall, it was quite interesting to hear about from the perspective of a former child star. This is especially true as Wheaton made good -- albeit in an unconventional way -- as opposed to the tragic yet unsurprising stories of child stars who fell into bad lifestyle choices, such as Lindsey Lohan, or, more recently, Amanda Bynes.
It was also interesting getting a peek behind the curtain into the world of entertainment, seeing what auditions and film sets are like, as well as getting some anecdotes about what actors (and less positively, other industry types) are really like. I will admit it got tiring hearing how Wheaton was the "best actor" for every audition he went on and still repeatedly didn't get the parts. But he is so raw and candid about so many other aspects of his life -- depression, family, struggling to find work and pay the bills -- that it is easy to forgive his refusal to admit he may not have been the best actor for any given part.
I would say this is a must read for Star Trek fans, especially TNG fans, and for others immersed in geek culture, and would also be a valuable read for anyone interested in what the life of a struggling actor is like.(less)
If you've read my review of The Human Division, then you know I love Lieutenant Harry Wilson and Deputy Ambassador Hart Schmidt.
Well while reading a...moreIf you've read my review of The Human Division, then you know I love Lieutenant Harry Wilson and Deputy Ambassador Hart Schmidt.
Well while reading a glowing five-star review of that novel from SFReviews.net, I noticed the following post-script: "The print edition of the book also includes 'After the Coup,' a short story featuring Harry Wilson that was one of Tor.com's launch stories." Wait a second, I thought, a launch story would mean this is already available, even though the print edition isn't. Approximately 5.5 seconds of Googling later, and I was reading the story on Tor.com.
You should go there and read it too. It's a really good short story that highlights John Scalzi's ability to write funny yet heartfelt characters in fantastical settings. There's also an interesting fight sequence. And, it's a great barometer for seeing if you'll like The Human Division, which heavily features Wilson and Schmidt.(less)
This book immediately enters my top five all-time favorite sci-fi books (a category that is admittedly weighted heavily towards cyberpunk entries).
Th...moreThis book immediately enters my top five all-time favorite sci-fi books (a category that is admittedly weighted heavily towards cyberpunk entries).
The set-up is fairly simple, although the world and its technology get complex quickly. Takeshi Kovacs is killed on his home world, Harlan's World, and is resleeved -- a process where a conscience can be ported to another body or synthetic body -- on Earth. As a former United Nations Envoy, his skills are required by a wealthy business magnate named Laurens Bancroft, a "Meth" -- one who has been able to avoid real death by continuous resleeving for centuries -- who needs him to investigate his previous body's suspicious death. If Kovacs solves the mystery, he earns his freedom. Of course there are complications, the first being that his current sleeve is that of a disgraced local cop.
This book has an intricately crafted world, with every detail working in perfect concert to create a setting that was tangible as it was futuristic and exotic -- and without creating any obvious logical holes in it (view spoiler)[For example, at the beginning of the book, I opined that there would be nothing in this world that would stop a person from double sleeving and cloning themselves which, were it not addressed would have been a logical hole. But before the end of the book, not only had they made reference to Kadmin having done it, but Kovacs does it himself to great effect (hide spoiler)].
For all the resleeving the book had, it also managed exceptionally vivid characters that transcended the sleeves they occupied, while maintaining a nuanced cyberpunk/noir vibe, no easy feat considering everything else going on simultaneously -- especially considering this was Richard K. Morgan's first novel.
Added to the world building, the memorable characters, and the hybrid cyberpunk/noir voice, is the depth of political, religious, philosophical, and economic threads woven in and out of this story, with an amazing absence of info dumping, and you have a masterpiece. This book is a must read for anyone interested in science fiction, especially cyberpunk, as well as any open-minded fan of the noir detective story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am filled with reader's rage. No preamble for this review:
Problem 1: Just because Somec, a drug/technology where people could sleep for years withou...moreI am filled with reader's rage. No preamble for this review:
Problem 1: Just because Somec, a drug/technology where people could sleep for years without aging, exists, doesn't mean everyone would agree to take it -- which is exactly what happens on Capitol. Everyone in society is okay with skipping through years and decades of life and watching their peers and families grow old while they age unnaturally simply because either a) it is good for society or b) it is an honor to be given Somec. And there is no resistance to this. This idea was very hard to swallow, and also happened to be one of the main conceits of the book. (This concept was handled much more deftly in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.)
Problem 2: My misguided assumption that because this was a science fiction book about a starship pilot that it would be somewhat futuristic, and occasionally exciting, and be set in the stars. Instead, much more of it, especially the frame story (more on that clusterfuck later), is set in something akin to the Dark Ages, and involves and describes, ad nauseum, the creation of pre-industrial societies. Zzzz. It is almost as if Orson Scott Card wrote segments of this book between playing marathon sessions of Civilization and/or SimCity.
Problem 3: The inane, boring frame story -- which was actually just a device for OSC to be able to tie all of these barely related short stories together into one steaming collection of manure. The protagonist of the frame story, Lared, is a whiny boy who is surrounded by an unbearable family, and then chances upon Jason Worthing and his daughter Justice, who are distant and fickle god-persons. There were literally no likable characters until the tinker came along for a few blessed scenes. Most of the frame story, in fact, is devoted to Lared performing menial tasks for his parents and his village. The upside, however, is now I have a greater understanding of how to properly sew leather boots, fell trees, and know which animal's urine makes good soap. Seriously, WTF. And in between these tasks he has dreams, which are actually the short stories OSC is collecting into a "saga," in what I am sure he thinks is a clever manner.
Problem 4: The coolest character found in the entire book, Abner Doon, is given so precious little time and attention. And every time his name is mentioned by future persons, they allude to his being evil or call him the devil, without the reasons fully fleshed out. Which leads me to one last point...
Problem 5: I feel like most of the book was some sort of pseudo-religious grand standing, although it was so muddled -- this is early writing of OSC's -- I can't even tell what moral I was supposed to come away with, other than, possibly, that pain is good? Wait, that can't be it -- although the entire frame story leads to that conclusion -- because in the final pages, Justice breaks her vow to not heal others, and becomes the healer to the whole village, undoing this moral for the sake of a happy ending.
And it was a happy ending for me, as well as the villagers, because I was very, very happy it was over. Fin.(less)